When used the right way, social media marketing can be a powerful lead generation machine. However, to be effective at generating leads for your business, you should approach social media marketing to engage with your target audience and provide solutions to problems rather than as a selling or promotional tool.
Here are some common mistakes that could damage the results you are able to generate from social media, ultimately leading to a failed campaign.
Here are common mistakes to avoid when using social media for marketing your business:
Not having a strategy or plan.
Creating a comprehensive social media strategy is as important as having a business plan. A specific social media plan that you can incorporate into your overall business strategy is absolutely essential in order for your social media efforts to have any hope of success. Your social media marketing strategy should outline a clear vision of exactly what you want to achieve, identify the most effective social networking platforms for your business, and define the tactics you plan to use in the process.
Without a clear vision, well-mapped plan and strategic approach, your marketing efforts will be random and chaotic, and largely ineffectual. The campaign will be unfocused and the results you do get will be weak and disjointed. Ensuring that your marketing efforts are guided by a clearly defined strategy will bring direction, focus and discipline to your social media marketing campaign.
Social media requires a significant time commitment, and for that reason, some people choose to take shortcuts. One of the shortcuts they take is by scheduling updates to be posted automatically so they don’t have to be present on the platform. Others link their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter updates together. This may seem harmless enough, and has been recommended by a number of experts as it helps to maintain your visibility on the platforms. It is also a time saver. The fact is, it is a really bad idea.
People that use these different social media platforms all have different personalities and mindsets, and it is impossible to craft messages that are suitable for all three platforms at once. You are not being genuine and in time, people will get wise to what you’re doing. You will certainly not attract more people to your brand. Furthermore, it could have serious implications for your brand. Linking platforms is something to stay away from doing.
Focusing on quantity, not quality.
Plenty of business owners wrongly believe that having large numbers of fans on their Facebook page is the hallmark of a successful marketing campaign. This simply isn’t true. Social media is about one thing and one thing only: engagement. It is more important to focus on the level of engagement.
Having 50 engaged Facebook fans who comment and like your status updates is better than having 1,000,000 passive fans who never interact with your page, and are not interested in you or your business. Engaged users are more likely to support your company or buy your products.
Not engaging with your target audience.
Social media is about being “social”, and you need to interact and actively engage with your target audience. Its all about community building. You need to show your personality and your humanness. Ask questions and respond to comments. Post interesting pictures. Share useful content that your users will enjoy, such as industry news or relevant tips, and not just self-promotional information about your business, products or services. Comment on other pages and share other people’s content.
Engaging with other people makes them more likely to engage with you and comment on your pages. Leverage social media to create meaningful relationships with current customers and prospects, forge bonds with industry peers, and strengthen relationships through online engagement. Its about finding ways to provide value to those you interact with.
If there is a conversation going on about your industry between potential customers and you’re not listening, you are leaving money on the table for those competitors that are listening and engaging with your target audience. If your conversation is completely one-sided, you will turn people off, and they will eventually begin to ignore you. That will spell disaster for your brand’s image.
Spamming your target audience.
One major mistake that you can make with social media is to treat every post as an opportunity to promote your business. Social media is not the place to apply traditional marketing techniques, engage in heavy sales tactics, or send spam-like communications. Doing that will only serve to damage your brand and alienate the very people you’re trying to reach.
Although there’s nothing wrong with sharing your experiences and the value of your business, products and services, social media marketing tools are vastly different from other marketing tools and requires a completely different approach, mindset and strategy. If you over-do it, self-promote to people who know nothing about you or your brand, or adopt the habits of salesmen of old (even slightly), you’re going to be ignored and overlooked.
Not tracking statistics.
It is extremely important to analyze the statistics from your various social media sites so that you can access and refine your approach as required. Bad reviews of a business spreads much faster than good reviews, so it makes good business sense for businesses to always keep their eyes on what customers and prospective customers are saying about a business on their Twitter feeds, blogs and on their Facebook pages.
In addition, by tracking and monitoring your progress on the various social media platforms, you can gain valuable insights such as what time of day your customers are most active, what types of posts bring the highest levels of engagement, etc. Zeroing in on these key stats and using them to shape your overall social media strategy will make your efforts will make your efforts that much more successful.
Spreading yourself too thin.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in social media is to try and be everywhere – it simply just won’t work. Stretching yourself across a wide range of social media platforms will mean you are spending too much time with fewer quality results. To be successful in social media marketing, you must first understand what each platforms purpose is, and how this will relate to your business.
Developing a meaningful presence on all of these sites will only help your business if you have the time to develop meaningful, site-specific content for each.
Expecting immediate payback.
Social media won’t lead to overnight success. Social media is about building an affinity with your audience so when the time comes, they’ll make the purchase you were seeking. It is unlike SEO or search marketing where the goal is to reach people searching for what you have to offer and make an instant purchase.
For example, let’s say you sell French lessons for English speakers through your website, and have created a Facebook Page that is all about learning French. Imagine that you have a number of fans who are somewhat interested in learning French and they engage and interact with your Page quite frequently because you post a lot of great content including free introductory tutorials and how-tos, interactive images that help learning the language quicker and easier, articles, etc.
You also demonstrate your expertise by sharing videos of yourself conversing in French with one of your students, and those fans who are somewhat interested in the language are able to really make good progress in their learning, just from engaging with your page on a regular basis.
One day, a fan of your Page, Plato, decides he’s ready to take the plunge and purchase a French course. Over time he has been receiving promotional emails from different training schools who have not built a relationship with John, like you have. In all likelihood, John will purchase from you because of the relationship you have developed and nurtured over time.
That is how social media works. Building an engaged community with social media will take time and dedication. After getting people to follow you, you’ll need to take the time to nurture the relationships. Success will come in increased awareness of your brand, referrals, traffic and eventually, sales.
Many of the people in your audience may not be ready to purchase right now, so don’t expect immediate results. Focus on providing quality, and the results may be slow coming, but they are sure to follow in time. What is more, they will be highly qualified and already familiar with and engaged with your brand.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest has evolved from a trending social media network and continues to grow as a go-to visual search engine for ideas, tips and inspiration. It is also a high powered marketing machine. Whilst it may not be quite as popular as Facebook in terms of the sheer number of members, Pinterest has a ton of powerful and unique features that present excellent opportunities for driving thousands of targeted traffic and generating qualified leads for all types of businesses.
Pinterest is used by millions of people who are looking for things to buy, plan and do. The typical user uses it to search for inspiration or solutions to problems. Essentially, Pinterest allows users to pin images of interesting content they find on the web. Each time a visitor pins a particular piece of content from a website, their followers can see it and repin it as well to their boards and their followers can do the same, leading to a kind of viral effect that over time, can have a tremendous effect on any business.
And therein lies the real power of Pinterest, because it means that you can capture the attention and engage people in your target audience with the right image, providing an incredible opportunity to get your business and products in front of your target market in a visually powerful and authentic way.
Still not sure of you should be marketing on Pinterest? Consider this: 75 percent of saved Pins come from businesses, and 2 million people pin product Pins every day.
Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of Pinners make more than $100,000 per year, and the average order value of a sale coming from Pinterest is $50, the highest of all major social platforms.
If you create images that solve specific problems for your target audience visually, this can be a powerful and effective way to drive qualified leads in the form of highly targeted traffic to your website. Each pin provides several ways to drive traffic to a website.
Some interesting statistics about Pinterest:
- As at September 2017, Pinterest currently has 200 million monthly active users.
- 71% of those 200 million users are female
- 88% of users purchase a product they have pinned;
- 49% have purchased 5 or more products they pinned;
- Each piece of content that a Pinterest user pins is worth, on average, 78 cents to the brand whose merchandise is featured.
- On Cyber Monday, Pinterest more than tripled the revenue sent to online retailers.
A Powerful Lead Generation Machine
Whilst Pinterest is categorized as a social media network, people do not share images on Pinterest in the same way that they do on Facebook. And this is what makes the platform such a goldmine for all kinds of businesses.
Three of the main reasons why people visit Pinterest are:
For example, on Facebook, people might share pictures of their big events such as weddings, birthday parties, places they’ve visited, etc. However, Pinterest is where many of these people go to search for ideas and inspiration when they are planning their big event. It is a search engine. Such users are usually at advanced stages of the buying funnel and if you’re a wedding planner or travel agent, you’ll want to engage these individuals with your content at the precise time that they are actively searching for the products and services that you sell.
And this also presents an excellent opportunity to various kinds of businesses that wouldn’t ordinarily think that their target audience would be on Pinterest. For example if you’re a financial advisor, you can create a visually engaging Pin (known colloquially as a tipographic) of the top 10 financial tips for planning the wedding of your dreams.
Similarly, an insurance company can engage users planning a trip with an attractive visual presentation of the advantages of buying travel insurance. It’s all about attracting attention with the right image. This is why Pinterest is widely recognized as the most powerful lead generation tool for specific types of businesses.
Do More With Less
One thing that is so special about Pinterest is that, unlike other social networks, you don’t need a lot of followers to get massive traffic and massive reach. Even though it is classed as a social network, people aren’t going to Pinterest to connect with other people, but to search for quality content and get ideas and inspiration for their projects. Of course, you need followers because of all of the benefits that a large social network can bring. However, the fact remains that you can still engage a large audience even if you only have very few followers.
On sites like Twitter and Facebook, you need to have more followers to be able to reach more people with your posts. This is not the case with Pinterest. Even without having a large following, you can leverage the content you post to potentially reach millions of users that can be targeted by interest, demographics, and keywords that they’re searching.
Pinterest Lead Generation Tools
Pinterest offers a variety of powerful tools that you can leverage to successfully generated qualified leads for your business.
Visual Search Engine
Pinterest is a powerful visual search engine. This means that by understanding how your target audience searches for the products and services that you sell, you can effectively optimize your business, products or services to be found by potential buyers who are actively searching for what you sell.
Pinterest rich pins are enhanced pins that add more information than usual pins to make them more helpful and more powerful for businesses. This extra information is automatically pulled from your website and included on the pin itself.
Rich pins provide free email notifications and highlight additional information which can be displayed in the Pinterest Pin Feed underneath the pinned image. Consequently, they drive significantly more traffic than regular pins, and this will often result in a significant increase in sales. Image as well as text-based content in a pin can increase relevancy which in turn can lead to more informed decisions.
Pins are never deleted
Yet another incredible feature that is unique to Pinterest is the fact that once you upload an image that proves popular with your target audience, you can keep getting leads in the form of targeted traffic to your website from that pin for years after you posted it.
This is because the pins last forever on Pinterest and can only be deleted by the user that published it. This is another powerful edge that Pinterest has over other social networks including Facebook and Twitter, and why Pinterest needs to be at the heart of your online marketing strategy.
SEO Benefits of Pinterest
In addition to powerful social signals that are factored into the search engines’ algorithms, Pinterest has tremendous benefits for organic SEO. Google and Bing crawl and index Pinterest pins because they are publicly available, and when they appear in Google searches, they typically appear at the top of the first page.
This means your search-optimized images can show up for relevant searches, increasing your visibility. But what is so powerful about Pinterest is that if you have an image that is repinned 200 times, this means that you have 200 boards with links to your website. The more popular images you have, the more links you’re getting to your site. A strong presence on Pinterest will have a truly delightful impact on your organic search ranking.
You can setup an advertising campaign on Pinterest to promote specific pins, increase brand awareness, drive targeted traffic and convert leads into customers. One way to approach an advertising campaign on the platform is to promote a pin that has already seen some success on Pinterest with repins or comments.
Since this pin has already proven to be somewhat successful with a certain section of the Pinterest community, chances are that when it’s shown to a larger pool of targeted users, it will be well received by them as well and will drive more traffic to your blog.
So, if you setup a succesful advertising campaign to promote a specific pin that has gained traction on Pinterest, the pins that you promote during and after the campaign are never deleted, and will continue to work for you for years after the campaign has ended.
With a promoted pin campaign, you can pay to have your pins show up in specific feeds or search results, and with this you’re able to target audiences that have visited your website, are on your email newsletter list or discover a whole new audience on Pinterest.
For example, using Promoted Pins, Adore Me, a monthly subscription service for stylish lingerie, saw:
- A 3700% increase in purchases coming from Pinterest
- A 6000% increase in email signups coming from Pinterest
- A 2600% increase in traffic coming from Pinterest
- A 50% higher click-to-purchase rate on Promoted Pins compared to other channels, especially on mobile
If you setup an ad campaign and audience targeting to target specific users, your promoted pins will show up in their home feed as well as in any searches they make that are related to your targeted keywords.
You can target people based on:
- Visitors that went to your site;
- Subscribers to your newsletter;
- An engagement audience that have engaged with your Pins
- An actalike audience that is based on your already created audiences. This is similar to the lookalike audience in Facebook ads.
Keys to Success With Pinterest
Success with Pinterest is simply about using it as a platform to increase brand recognition, build trust and credibility, and to engage your audience by providing high quality value. The mistake that a lot of companies make on social media as a whole is simply to try and use it as a platform reach a broader audience that they can sell to. This is the type of approach often leads to failure, especially if you’re a small business that no one has heard of.
It is important to always keep in mind that Pinterest is first and foremost, a social network. Like other networks, you need a marketing strategy to successfully leverage the website for lead generation. If you don’t have a proper plan or strategy, you’ll end up without any tangible or meaningful results.
The basic fact is that you want people to follow you on social media. If you want to build an audience and engender loyalty from your audience, then you need to give users a reason to follow and trust you. If all you want to do is to promote your products and services, then you’re not being social, and there is no reason for users to follow you or trust you.
What is really awesome about Pinterest is that if your board is providing great value then it will grow naturally. People will repin your pins, they will comment and they will discover what you’re posting through the search button. If you’re offering new content, if you’re staying on topic and if you’re providing real value by offering a genuine service of some kind, then people will gradually gravitate towards your brand and you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set out to achieve on the platform.
What Is A Co-Citation?
Co-citations are effectively “mentions” across the web. A mention occurs when an article or blog post about a topic in your industry refers to your site in relation to a particular product or service, but doesn’t actually establish a link to your site. This is a citation. A citation is valued by Google because it’s organic and authoritative. Someone chose to cite you as a source of their own volition.
For example, if you provide computer repair services and your site is reviewed in an article as a “leading computer repair firm in London” without actually linking to it, that is a co-citation or mention.
If you get a number of articles on well-established websites and social networks also refer to your site in the same terms, this will serve as a strong ranking signal to Google.
Note that mentions of computer repair services in direct relation to your website can trigger the ranking of your site for relevant search queries for related services like computer networking even when your website has not been optimized for the keywords: computer networking.
Citations are valued by Google because, unlike backlinks that you can purchase, it is much more difficult to manipulate the system with citations. To expand on the concept of a co-citation, consider the following definition from Sourceforget.net.
The Website defines a co-citation as:
“A popular similarity measure used to establish a subject similarity between two items. If A and B are both cited by C, they may be said to be related to one another, even though they don’t directly reference each other. If A and B are both cited by many other items, they have a stronger relationship. The more items they are cited by, the stronger their relationship is.”
Let’s say you’re in the IT industry and a particular website (site A) references a blog post or article on your site (site C). In the same article, site A also references Microsoft.com – an authority site (site B) that is closely related to your industry. In this scenario, some of the respect and authority from Microsoft (the authority site) will flow down to site C (your site).
To make this a lot clearer, consider the following example: say you run an online computer store that sells Windows and Apple computers including desktops, laptops and tablets. On your site, you have an educational blog in which you teach people how to perform a variety of computer tasks that the average consumer will find a bit challenging to do on their own. One of your most popular articles is a step-by-step blog post on how to setup a local computer network to share files and printers between Windows, Linux, and Apple computers.
Now, let’s assume that there is an excellent whitepaper on the Microsoft.com Website that teaches how to create a network between Windows 7, XP, and Vista desktops, laptops, tablets, feature phones, Android smartphones and wireless printers. However, unlike your blog post, the article doesn’t describe how to create a network between all of those devices and iMacs and iPhones. So, your blog post fills a gap in the article, and the Microsoft whitepaper also fills a gap in your article, because it discusses how to setup a network that includes feature smartphones and printers, which you do not actually discuss in your post.
On a 3rd party website, an article discusses the subject of networking smartphones, printers, Windows and Apple computers. The author references the networking article on the Microsoft website. However, the article also mentions that the Microsoft whitepaper does not explain how to create a network between Windows and Apple computers and peripherals. The article also references your blog post and explains how your blog post fills in the information that is missing in the Microsoft article. This is a co-citation.
As far as Google is concerned, your website is being talked about on the web, and it is being talke about in the same context as a leading authority (Microsoft). That is huge. It is much better than an anchor text backlink because it is editorial, and this makes it so much more powerful.
Your website will share some of Microsoft’s respect from Google because of the context in which your site and blog post was referenced, not because of any specific keywords embedded into the link. In this case, the link to your site should be a branded link (such as http:www.example.com/networking-computers.html). It should not be anchor text. Enough co-citations like this, and your site will receive a massive boost on the SERPs from co-citations alone.
How to Earn a Co-Citation
The reason why Google ascribes so much value to co-citations is because it’s much more difficult to manipulate co-citations than anchor text backlinks. Earning mentions–on a monthly basis in top publications in your market will keep your brand relevant. You will need to create something meaningful that will inspire people talk about your site. In short, co-citations must be truly earned. You can do this by creating content that is meaningful, valuable and hard to find. When you create this type of content, other people will read it, share it, and write about it themselves.
Verification Of Authenticity
It is important to note that when it comes to co-citations or mentions, Google has a way of identifying fake ones. Google uses variety of mentions as a means of verifying the authenticity of a particular co-citation. For example, if suddenly your website’s name starts to get mentioned across the web with the exact same sentence describing what you do and the service you provide or the products that you sell, that will not sound natural. In all likelihood, Google will view that as an attempt to manipulate the search process, and strong penalties will follow.
Something similar happened with the British website Interflora over Valentine’s Day. Interflora sponsored hundreds of paid advertisements that appeared in regional newspaper sites in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, each of these had a similar phrasing and heading, all of which were pointing to the Interflora website. Google not only delisted Interflora from its index, but it also penalized each of the regional newspaper websites that participated in the infraction by dropping their PageRank (PR) to zero. You can read more about the case here:
Getting Mentions with HARO
HARO (Help a Reporter Out) can be a great resource for scoring free publicity, links and mentions on major media sites. It is a free online resource that connects journalists that need sources with business owners that are looking to get featured on major media publications including ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN, New York Times, Business Week, Reuters and the Hearst Corporation. HARO is also one of the most effective ways on the web for getting small business stories in front of big media.
HARO can be a great resource for generating free publicity for your brand
To get started, start by registering at www.helpareporter.com for a free account. Under ‘Sources’, sign up and indicate your fields of expertise. You can sign up for a standard, basic, advanced or premium package. Whatever the package you choose, you’ll receive emails three times a day from journalists that need sources in your chosen categories. These emails will arrive at exactly the same time.